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The History and The Culture of Chess

Chess in the Press - Issue #3
    May  2006

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Volume 1 Number 3 CHESS IN THE PRESS June 1, 1993
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A Pleasure to Treasure Forever

More great chess articles from the world's press: The Amazing Kreskin,
Harold Schonberg on chess and music, Albert Einstein, Jimmy Sherwin,
Sultan Khan, and King Abdallah of Jordan.

"Gosh, Kreskin, That's Amazing!" Asimov, Isaac. New York (Sept 4,
1978), p. 38.
Asimov reports on a chess demonstration performed by "The Amazing Kreskin,
the World's Foremost Mentalist," at the Raga restaurant. Kreskin was
blindfolded and attempted to call out the moves played by his two opponents
after they made their moves. He correctly guessed their first two moves
and then halted that part of the exhibition. In one game, Kreskin's
opponent played 1. e4 and he replied 1...d5. His opponent played 2. exd5.
Asimov noted that the pawn capture made a pronounced click--a dead giveaway.
"Kreskin guessed the move after much patter and visible suffering. The
suffering was highly dramatic and effective. It made the whole thing seem
hard." Next, Kreskin asked that a knight be placed on any square on
a chessboard that had all the squares numbered sequentially. Kreskin guessed
the square it was placed on. "I don't know how he did it, but I presume
any good mentalist can do it." [C'mon, Isaac. If he stumped you, give him
credit for it, don't belittle his achievement.] Kreskin then called off
the number of the 63 other squares by way of knight moves, completing
the Knight's Tour. "Kreskin suffered through every number, asking for
quiet, then pattering and squirming endlessly." Kreskin offered to meet
Bobby Fischer and the winner of the Karpov-Korchnoi match, and play them
both simultaneously, himself blindfolded.

"New Chess Theory Not for Einstein." New York Times (Mar 28, 1936),
p. 17.
Einstein consented to a rare interview with a "cub" reporter and took
the opportunity to deny a magazine report that he liked playing 3-D
chess. "I have seen pictures of the game in the rotogravures," he said,
"but as yet I have not played it. I do not play any games, you see.
There is no time for it. When I get through work I don't want anything
which requires the working of the mind." He admitted he had played
ordinary chess "once or twice when a boy." [Apparently Einstein took up
chess later, as there is a game score Einstein-Oppenheimer out there.]

"Marriage of Mind, Muscle." Curtiss, Aaron. Los Angeles Times (June 20,
1991), p. B3.
David Esser's "Gym for the Mind" in Woodland Hills was having trouble
staying in business. "Most people are not a bit interested in mental
activities," said Esser, 45. He opened up in 1988 by placing chessboards
next to barbells and encouraged patrons to try both. On any afternoon
the place is filled with chess players, and bodybuilders sweat and
grunt a few feet away. So far, there's little crossover. Chess players
tend to do nothing more physical than move a rook across the board.
Bodybuilders find enough mental stimulation in counting reps on the
bench press. In 4 years, Esser said, only 7 people have stopped to pull
a book from the shelf and open it.

"Chairmen of the Chessboard." Levy, Robert. Dun's Review. (Sept 1975),
p. 60-63, 103.
Includes an interview with IM Jimmy Sherwin and a list of executives
who enjoy chess, such as George Church, Jr., president of Church's
Fried Chicken; Winston Morrow, Jr., chairman of Avis; Barron Hilton,
president of Hilton hotels; and Caswell Silver, president of
Sundance Oil. "I never play chess for fun," Sherwin said. "It is a
game that brings out the killer instinct and is a terribly aggressive
ego trip. When you win, you are immensely elated; when you lose, you
are crushed." George Church said, "When I have a complicated business
problem that I can see no solution for, I get out the chess set and
run through some of the celebrated games of the international masters.
There's nothing like it for clearing the cobwebs."

"Jews' Defenders Disband in Reich." Enderis, Guido. New York Times
(July 16, 1933), sec.4, p. 2.
Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment,
a devotee of the game of chess, wanted an "All-German Chess League," and
therefore all Jewish chessmasters were barred from official tournaments
and matches of the German Chess League. Goebbels sought out players
who were of strong National Socialist persuasion. Otto Zander, President
of the new league, said all Jews would be excluded, "unless such
disability could be overcome by a record of front-line war service."

"Sweeping the Board." Wagstaff, Michael. Times Educational Supplement
(Sept 21, 1990), p. 27.
A profile of Sultan Khan. Khan and Miss Fatima came to England in
1929 as servants in the household of Sir Umar Hayat Khan Tiwano, a
wealthy landlord from the Punjab and aide to George V. Over a 5-year
period, Khan won the British Empire Championship 3 times, and played on
top board at 3 Olympiads. Miss Fatima won the British Ladies title,
caught the eye of Winston Churchill, and "gad about" in Paris with the
future Edward VIII & Mrs. Simpson. She met the "Mother Queen," Queen
Mary, who supposedly asked her to teach her how to play the game [Fatima
was still alive & interviewed for a TV show]. In 1933, Sir Umar
returned to India along with Khan and Fatima. Khan was invited to play at
Moscow 1936, but was too poor to attend. Jonathan Mestel said of Khan:
"Capablanca called him a genius and he didn't use that term lightly.
People often forget that he had only been playing European chess for 3
years when he came here, and given that, his achievements were remarkable.
I think it's a shame that he didn't develop his talents further, and had
he done so, he might well have become world champion."

"Mideast Talks: Defying Diplomatic History." Ruby, Robert. Baltimore
Sun (Oct 27, 1991), p. 1A+.
Making peace is a deadly game in the Middle East. Egypt's Anwar Sadat
was killed for doing publicly what King Abdallah of Jordan had begun in
secret in the late 1940s. Abdallah regularly invited Israeli officials
for secret talks in Amman. The Israelis came as the King's guests at
lavish banquets, and they obligingly lost when he challenged them to
games of chess. Their discussions focused on the King's willingness
to consider a peace treaty. Abdallah was assassinated in 1951.

"Through North African Eyes." Simarski, Lynn Teo. Aramco World
(Jan/Feb 1992), p. 30-35.
Tunisia's biannual Carthage International Film Days, founded in 1966,
is the oldest international festival for films from the developing world.
Nacer Khemir's "The Dove's Lost Necklace" (1990) typifies the exquisite
detail with which Maghribi filmmakers tell their stories. Among the film's
poetic images are the master calligrapher's jasmine-scented ink, a
pomegranate inscribed with 60 Arabic names for love, and a chess game
between distant partners who communicate their moves by carrier pigeon.

"Patents: A Chessboard Approach to `Intelligent' Roadways That May Help
Drivers Avoid Stalemate." New York Times (Feb 8, 1993). p. C2.
Farradyne Systems has patented a design for a computerized traffic
control system that would provide useful information to drivers
throughout a city. The system divides a city into 4 quadrants resembling
chess boards. Each square on a board represents a small part of the city
and each board represents a different direction. The computerized system
in the car shows only the data for a particular square in which the car
is located and the data for adjacent squares.

"Recognition of Expertise in Chess Players." Reynolds, Robert. American
Journal of Psychology (Fall 1992), p. 409+.
Fifteen chessplayers rated from 1300 to 2210 judged 6 chess positions
taken from games between players rated from 1400 to 2600. Subjects were
to guess the strength of the players who arrived at each position, and
the moves which led up to each position. Higher rated players consistently
made lower estimation errors. Players were best at judging positions
arising between players closest in rating to themselves.

"Judge Orders Mentally Ill Manhattan Man to Remain in Hospital."
Dugger, Celia A. New York Times (Dec 23, 1992), p. B1.
State mental health officials said the judge's decision supported
their claim that state law was broad enough to involuntarily commit
a person like Larry Hogue, even though he was a peaceable person who
passed his days playing chess as long as he was hospitalized and locked
away from street drugs. Hogue, a mentally ill man, had terrified many
Upper West Side residents with his aggressive behavior. The judge
reasoned that Hogue was likely to abuse crack, refuse treatment and
become psychotic and dangerous if released from his life as a
chess-playing hospital patient.

"Don't Forget Dessert." Lloyd, Lynn. Southern Living (Feb 1992), p. 114.
Recipe for chocolate chess squares. Bon apetit.

"Pawns, Rooks, and Notes." Schonberg, Harold. New York Times (Apr 29,
1962), sec. 2, p.9.
Schonberg claims that chess is an art, "in that it deals with the
materials and processes of creation and evokes an aesthetic response."
He draws several parallels between music and chess: both have their
prodigies, both are arts of combination, whether it is with 32 pieces or
12 notes of the chromatic scale. The historical parallels between chess
and music: after the Romantic Age spent itself, there emerged Steinitz
and Brahms. Then came Schoenberg's music and Reti's hypermodernism.
Today the trend is toward "a cut-and-dried electicism, in which memory
and technique are more important than daring and imagination." He likens
Alekhine to Wagner, Capablanca to Ravel, and Anderssen to Liszt.

"What Has Bobby Fischer to Do with Music?" Schonberg, Harold. New
York Times (Nov 7, 1971), sec. 2, p. 15.
A chess game is as formalized as the idea of sonata form. The chess
player also starts out with an "idea" (exposition), and the idea
is analogous to the "first subject" of the sonata. Just as exposition is
followed by development, the opening is followed by the middle game.
In sonata and chess, the middle section is the most baroque, complex,
and hazardous part. Then comes "recapitulation" (sonata) and end game
(chess). "Here the analogy is a little forced--for in music, the original
ideas come back; whereas the end game is the `distillation' of the
original idea." What sets the genius apart from the rest is imagination.

"Paul Reif Work Introduced Here." New York Times (Apr 11, 1965), p. 92.
[This is a followup to "Philidor's Defense," from _Chess in the Press_
v1, no. 2.] Edward Gerber led the Philharmonia of New York in the
premiere of "Philidor's Defense," by Paul Reif. "It is a pleasant piece.
It has amusing references to the Rossini opera, and the musical scheme
provides some witty scoring and antiphonal effects."

NEXT ISSUE: Paul Morphy & Russia's Alexander Petroff; Jimmy Sherwin's
legal problems; correspondence chess; Walter Tevis on the National Open;
aesthetics & chess; chess & the law; and a Soviet chess show with gorgeous
young girls, famous entertainers, & a phony promoter. Don'tcha dare miss it!

Editor: Stephen Leary []
[No anagrams this time]
Chess in the Press is cross-posted to Chess-L on Bitnet & RGC on Usenet

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